Felling larches – a new Olympic discipline

450 centuries-old trees cut down to make room for a new bob track which we do not really need

We thought the Vaia Storm was bad enough, uprooting hundreds of thousands of trees in our valleys. We thought it could not get any worse after discovering the European spruce bark beetle infestation, which is slowly but surely killing the larches peppering our mountains. We should have known: it can always get worse. The new perpetrator is the Cortina Olympic Committee, which has decided to fell 450 centuries-old larches to make room for a new bob track. What is odd about the decision – or odd-er, as this is not their first inane action – is that a bob track already exists. True, it is in need of some TLC, but if people had not wasted so much time on other things, it would have been as good as new by now. A bit of elbow grease, a retouch here and there – but retouches do not fill the belly of Father Speculation. To add insult to injury, everyone knows the Innsbruck track – as pretty as a gem, perfection personified – could have been used for the Olympic races. It is just around the corner, to boot. Silly us for being so naive. Because the go-to solution has been to cut down trees, pour cement on the ground, destroy all that is beautiful in our area to make room for a nonsensical, unwholesome, wild, and devastating race lining the pockets of speculators, which will yield profit to the detriment of nature. A shortsighted idea but far from surprising: how long have we repeated the same things, time and again, without anyone taking heed? I already know what the Committee will say: we will plant new trees here, add a touch of green there, done and dusted and do not annoy us too much with this again – we are sustainable, see? Sustainable. How I abhor that word. Do not get me wrong: when used for the right reasons and the appropriate contexts, I fully endorse its use; however, it is an overused word which makes its true meaning as fragile as can be. Felling larches goes against the grain of our modern ages: our mountains are telling us to stop, to spare them. Hundreds of locals have woken up to the realisation that we cannot go on like this, and so my complaint is not a lone cry rising up from the multitudes. Far from it. We can only picture the future by looking at the mountains with a fresh pair of eyes. Felling larches, or trees in general, is an outdated thing, as outdated as this short-sighted policy. The Veneto region is the world record-holder for number of abandoned warehouses and Italian poet Zanzotto talked decades ago about “ravaging progress”. Will we ever learn our lesson? Or are we really ignorant citizens, wearing our ass’ ears proudly, ready to fail because we do not heed the lessons Mother Nature has been giving us time and again – lessons which at times have been devastatingly harsh and violent. In conclusion, I would like to ask you how many bob athletes are there in Italy, anyway? Fewer than 450, that is for sure. I received an invitation to go to Cortina and speak to a school – and I voiced my doubts regarding the Cortina-Ladinia Olympics. Oh, wait, Cortina-Milano. One girl stood up and said, “with a new bob track, we will be able to use a bobsleigh just like my grandad did.” That is a valid and legitimate wish, all things considered. So, bring on the bob track, to the detriment of the larches. Wretched Mother Nature. And wretched humanity.